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Key Capitol Hill Hearings

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Us 28, Massachusetts 15, America 15, Maryland 13, U.s. 9, Oregon 9, United States Senate 7, Obamacare 7, Salem 6, Madam 6, United States 6, Washington 5, Europe 5, Mr. Markey 4, Ted Kennedy 3, Kennedy 3, Harkin 3, Enda 3, Garth 3, Johnson 3,
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  CSPAN    Key Capitol Hill Hearings    Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers  
   and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)  

    November 5, 2013
    10:30 - 12:31pm EST  

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health insurance, will never forget it as long as you live. to senior citizen a waiting room of a hospital in washington, d.c., with your baby and wonder who is going to walk through the door and take care of her because you don't have insurance. you just have to hope that the charity care being offered in that hospital will be good caree should ever have. i've lived it. i don't want others to have to live it. we've got to give to every american family a chance for health insurance. let me say a word about this notion of canceled policies. the market of insurance that we're talking about here are people that are buying individual health insurance, not the group plans at most places of employment. it's a small segment but an important segment of our population. if you look to the facts, you will find that almost two-thirds of the people who are in the individual health insurance market, buying their own plans for their family through a broker, for example, almost two-thirds of those plans are
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literally changed and canceled every two years. there is a lot of flex and change in this market, and prices continue to go up. at the end of the day here's what we're facing. some two million, three million, or four million people may find themselves in a more difficult position because the policy they once had doesn't meet the standards which have now been established in law for minimum health insurance coverage in america. what are those standards that we say should be in every health insurance policy? number one, you cannot discriminate against people because of a preexisting condition. is there a person alive in america today, any family that doesn't have someone with a preexisting condition? it can be something as basic as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, mental illness. these things literally disqualified people from
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coverage in health insurance. we've changed that law and said you cannot discriminate based on preexisting conditions. secondly, we've said you can't put a lifetime limit on how much the insurance policy will pay. who knows -- who knows whether their one diagnosis or one accident away from meeting health insurance that costs way beyond what we can even imagine. $100,000, $200,000, not an unusual charge for what used to be considered somewhat routine. we say you cannot cap the coverage in a health insurance policy because life is unpredictable and our medical future is unpredictable. that's one of the provisions that has to be built into the policy. we also say you can't discriminate against people in selling health insurance because they happen to be women. and there was rank discrimination against women in america when it came to the issuance of health insurance before this new law. we go on to say 80% of the premiums you collect have to be
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paid into medical services, not taken out in profit and marketing. we also say that if you have a health insurance policy, your son or daughter can stay under it until they reach the age of 26. that's important to every family with a graduating college student or someone looking for a job in a household. they may not find a job or if they do, it may not have benefits. don't you want the peace of mind as a parent to know up to age 26 you can keep them on the family policy? i've given you five things that are part of so-called obamacare, five things that have to be written out in every health insurance policy and five reasons why many companies are saying we have to cancel the old policy and reissue a new one consistent with these five principles, with these five protections. and that's why many of these policies are being rewritten. the president should have been more expansive in his explanation, but the fact is that is the story. that is what the affordable care act does. i hear the senator from kentucky tell us that 120,000 people may
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face a new policy. well, i'd like to ask what is the normal turnover he in health insurance policies in his state or other states. it happens with some frequency. 17 million americans, it is estimated 17 million americans are going to have help in paying for their health insurance because of the affordable care act. that means some will qualify for medicaid. that means others will receive tax credits and tax benefits to help with their health insurance payments. we're moving toward a society that has health insurance protection for all, and that is a good thing. not just for the peace of mind of each and every individual and family affected by it, but also because the system becomes more just, more fair. uninsured people get sick. they go to the hospital, go to the doctor. they incur bills, many of which they can't pay, and that burden is shifted to everyone else in america. let's accept the personal
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responsibility of health insurance. let's move forward as the state of massachusetts, as the presiding officer has already done, some 98%, i understand, have health insurance protection in the commonwealth of massachusetts thanks to the leadership of governor mitt romney and the cooperation of both political parties. massachusetts has shown us the way. let's follow that now. let's not turn our back on it. and the last point i'll make on this issue is i keep hearing from the republican side they have a better idea. what is it? i'd like to see the proposal from the republican side that they would put up against the affordable care act. you'll never see it because they basically believe let the market work its will. the market working its will has resulted in 40 million to 50 million uninsured americans. the number is growing, and it shouldn't. it won't under the affordable care act. now, mr. president, i'd like to address the business pending
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before the united states senate, the employment nondiscrimination act, and ask consent that it be shown in a separate part of the record from my earlier statement. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: mr. president, it was about 20 years ago that i first heard the name margarithe camemyer. it turns out she was a remarkable woman. she started off during the vietnam era as a combat nurse. she risked her life in vietnam to save the lives of those who were in battle and those who were injured and wounded. and then after the war she rose through the ranks and became a colonel in the united states air force. there came a time when she had to make a disclosure, a regular disclosure, and in that disclosure she said for the first time publicly that she was gay. margarithe camemyer, a colonel in the air force conceded she was tkpwaeufplt as a result she
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was -- conceded she was gay. as a result she was dismissed from the air force. had she done anything wrong? she had done everything that was right including risking her life as a combat nurse and moving up through the ranks with a stellar record. but her admission she was gay in those days 20 years ago was ground for discharge from the u.s. air force. i never met her but i heard her story and thought that is plain wrong. she served our country and served it well and to discharge her from the military because of this admission is just unfair. the first time i ever saw her, mr. president, was a few years ago. president barack obama was signing into law the repeal of don't ask, don't tell. and i was in the audience when that signing ceremony took place, and they called the name margarithe camemyer to lead us in the pledge of allegiance. it is the first time i had ever seen her. i remember that day also because
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there was a rabbi who gave an invocation and he said in this invocation that if you look into the eye of another and you don't see the face of god, at least see the face of another human being. how apropos that margarithe camemyer would give the pledge of allegiance and the rabbi that invocation because it calls into focus what is pending on the floor of the united states senate. you know, we waste too many hours and too many days and too many weeks on capitol hill with government shutdowns and threats of defaulting on our debt, but every once in a while this senate and this congress can rise to the challenge and do something of an historic nature. yesterday was one of those days because yesterday on the floor of the united states senate by a margin of 62 votes, we voted to move forward on the employment nondiscrimination act, and
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here's what it says. that you cannot discriminate against a person because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity. what i thought was unfair about margarithe camemyer dismissing her for not anything she had done but who she was is done now in more than half of the states. in more than half of the states there is no protection from discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or sexual identity. it means that in those states you can literally be fired, denied a promotion, denied a raise simply because of your sexual orientation. that isn't right. luckily we had bipartisan support last night. seven republicans joined us in voting to move forward on this bill. i came to the floor yesterday to thank one of them who spoke, senator collins of maine. her statement in the "congressional record" is an important one for everyone to read. but i'd like to call attention
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as well to my colleague, senator mark kirk of illinois, a republican, who came to the floor of the united states senate yesterday and gave his first speech on the floor in two years. you see, my colleague suffered a stroke, and as a consequence, he's gone through a lengthy rehab and hospitalization, and he has really made a remarkable comeback. i was here on the day when he walked up the steps in the united states senate to the capitol, and there were people of both political parties, senators cheering him on, as they should. i watched his progress ever since, and it is remarkable. his determination to serve our state and nation continues. and yesterday he gave his first speech on the floor in two years, and that speech was brief but it was important. and i'd like to quote from my colleague's speech. he said -- this is from senator kirk's statement yesterday in
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the "congressional record" -- "i think it is particularly appropriate for an illinois republican to speak on behalf of this measure." i'm speaking of the employment nondiscrimination act. in the true tradition of abraham, dirksen and lincoln, men who gave us the 1964 civil rights act and the 13th amendment to the constitution. mr. president, it was a brief statement but it was important. senator kirk joined in a bipartisan effort to move this bill forward. i searched the "congressional record." i searched the "congressional record" of yesterday to look for one statement in opposition to the employment nondiscrimination act. there's not one. and there was a specific opportunity given for anyone opposed to that measure to stand and speak. senator tom harkin of iowa supported it. he spoke eloquently from this desk yesterday before the vote,
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and then two minutes were allocated to those in opposition. no one stood to speak. but then 30 voted against it. so what i'd like to do is encourage my colleagues to take, in the spirit of senator kirk and senator collins, this opportunity for us to truly do something in a bipartisan way. let us move this employment nondiscrimination act forward and let's do it with dispatch. we know that it's the right thing to do. america is not a stronger nation when there is discrimination anywhere, anywhere, including the workplace. and this bill will end that form of discrimination. now there are those who say, you're just wasting your time, senator, because speaker john boehner of ohio has already announced he not only opposes this, he will not let it see the light of day in the u.s. house of representatives. mr. president, you served there for many years. i did as well.
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the speaker has a lot of control in the house. he can decide what's going to come to the floor and what will not come to the floor. and unless a majority of the members of the house overrule him with a discharge petition, he usually has his way. but if we can show a strong bipartisan vote, even beyond the vote yesterday when seven republicans joined the democrats and tried to end this form of discrimination, then perhaps we can prevail in the house of representatives to move forward in what senator harkin characterized an historic achievement putting an end to discrimination. we'll be a better nation for it and both political parties should gather together all the political strength and support that they have to make this a reality. mr. president, i ask that my complete statement be made part of the record and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
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republican whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. cornyn: i see my colleague from maryland here, and i promise i won't take all that time. mr. president, during the debate over obamacare back in 2009 and 2010, the president repeatedly and unequivocally promised his fellow americans that if they liked their current health care plan, they could keep it. by one account, there were as many as 29 different times where the president was captured on videotape making that same unequivocal commitment. this is not an off-the-cuff remark or a casual throw-away comment. it was essential to the president's entire argument, selling obamacare. i heard the distinguished majority whip from illinois talking about the reasons why
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obamacare is so important, suggesting that you couldn't cover preexisting conditions or even young adults up to the age of 26 unless you accepted the whole package, the whole enchilada as we say in texas. well, that's just not true. the truth is we're committed to dealing with preexisting conditions. we're committed to helping people be able to buy and afford health care coverage, and what the president sold in 2009 and 2010 was basically sold under false pretenses as it turns out. if americans had known that obamacare would result in them losing their current coverage which they like, it never would have become law. according to one estimate, as many as 3.5 million people will lose their current health insurance coverage. now, i've heard the revisionist history here on the floor and elsewhere.
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they're trying change the commitment. rather than you can keep your current coverage, if you like it, period -- which is what the president said at the american medical association and many other times -- now they're trying to tweak that and saying, otherwise, if it isn't canceled by your employer. that isn't how it was sold to the american people in 2009 and 2010. when president obama campaigned in 2012, he reiterated his campaign from 2009 and 2010, he said, if you like your existing plan and want to keep it you have nothing to worry about. here's the exact statement that the president made on june 28, 2012, at a white house press conference. quote -- "if you're one of the
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more 250 million americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance." close quote. that's a direct quote, no qualifiers, no caveats. a simple, unequivocal promise. hough, way back in 2010 we now learn that the obama administration itself issued the very regulations which have made this -- keeping this promise impossible. indeed, the 2010 obamacare regulations acknowledged that between 40% to 67% of all policies in the individual market would lose their grandfathered status by 2014 and must be required to meet the costly mandates in obamacare. in other words, at the same time the president was making the promise, his own administration acknowledged that the regulations they were passing
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would make it impossible to keep it. well, as you can imagine, people are increasingly frustrated by these broken promises. i recently set up a web site in my office where my constituents can let me know how their personal health care coverage has been affected by the implementation of obamacare. and i hope others who perhaps may hear my comments on the floor this morning, if they have stories that they would like for us to be able to tell, to explain thousan how these broken promises have resulted in their inability to keep what they have, i hope they will go to cornyn.senatsenate.gov. one woman from livingston, texas, over in east texas, writings "my health insurance is being canceled due to the affordable care act."
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"my insurance company offered a plan that i can keep until 2014. guess what? it's 19% more a month than my current plan and it drops coverage for laboratory and i am anallin--and imaging studies. in december 2014, i'll have to change it again. premiums for myself and my husband at that time will increase 100% each, which will equal just about half, 50%, of our gross monthly income." "what exactly are we supposed to do?" another woman from pampa, texas, writes that her monthly health insurance premiums have increased by 30% already over last year and now her policy is being canceled altogether because of obamacare.
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so she i she's got to purchase w health insurance policy that will cost "much more" than her existing cofnlgexisting coverag. many folks will be forced to buy new obamacare-approved policy from an online exchange which doesn't even work yet. well, it's no wonder that a growing number of our friends across the aisle are beginning to wonder, why doesn't the administration extend the open enrollment period beyond march 2014? they realize that they're marching in lock step with the president when he made these promises and the fact that these promises are not being kept is a political liability for them. at the very least, it is a hardship for their constituents that they'd like to see rectified. why is the obamacare web site malfunctioning? it is an important question. but it is, again, just the tip of the iceberg.
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remember, obamacare became the law of the land more than three and a half years ago. i think most people are astonished to learn that. some news reports that i have read, people thought obamacare has already been fully implemented. but by design it was created to be implemented over a many-year-perio period of time. i think that was a misstaifnlgtk that was a mistake. having to live with the consequences of not meeting your promises. three years ago the administration should have gotten prepared to roll out its signature legislative achievement. according to cbs news one of president obama's top outside health care advisors sent the white house a memo back in may of 2010 warning them that obamacare was spiraling out of
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control. this memo came from harvard economist david cutler and readed, "i don't believe the relevant members of the administration understand the president's vision or have the capability to carry it out. you need to have people who have the understanding of the political process, people who understand how to work within the administration, and people who understand how to start and to build a business and, unfortunately, they just didn't get all of those people together." republicans have for years been warning that this government takeover of one-sixth of our economy, this central planning scheme, social engineering, if you will, that it wouldn't work. at the very least, the federal government has proven itself incompetent on making something this big and this complicated and this expensive work, as
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advertised. it's becoming increasingly clear. we spentsdz years warning that obamacare would force many americans ho to lose their existing coverage. we spent years warning that obamacare would limit patient choices and reduce health care options, and we've spent years warning that the law itself would prove to be unworkable. now it appears that many of those warnings have come true. we are reiterating our call to dismantle obamacare and to replace it with patient-centered reforms that will help bring down the cost, will not limit patient choices, and which will address most of the bigest problems in our broken -- most of the biggest problems in our broken health care system. there are many areas like young adult coverage and preexisting conditions that we can readily agree on. -- that we can readily agree ofnlt i thinon.i think the distd
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majority whip suggesting that you have to have obamacare to get those is a gross exage rakes. -- exogee reagan administration. -- as a gross exaggeration. it has proven to be a false promise on both counts. despite the promises made in 2009 and 2010, promises that were reeptd on the campaign trail i in 02012, it has become increasingly evident that obamacare is making it harder for americans to get or keep the insurance coverage they already have and which they want. by the way, obamacare was sold to the american people as way of getting everybody covered with insurance. the congressional budget office has documented that as many as 30 million people, 30 million
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americans, will remain uncovered even after obamacare is fully implemented. so you haven't met the goal of universal coverage, the c.b.o. says. you're finding that rather than your costs going down, they're going up. and you're finding that if you like what you had, you can't keep it. well, as republicans have said d all along, there are much better ways to expand health insurance corchlt i heard the majority whip this morning say that they'd like to hear our plan. well, either their memory is faulty or they just weren't listening. obamacare regulations are incompatible with the general marketplace and health care insurance and they're incompatible with cost kroll. i think perhaps the best example i can think of is where the market actually works in
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conjunction with a government promise like medicare prescription drug coverage. you remember when the medicare prescription drug corchl plan was adopted, medicare part-d. true competition in the market was created, and vendors competed for the business, the beneficiaries, when it came to selling them their prescription drug plan. and lo and behold, due to the discipline and competition, not only was quality of service and cost -- go up -- and costs go down, we've seen actually there's a 40% reduction or i should say the cost of the plan is 40% under what was originally projected. that's something we could use with obamacare, which has been completely rejected. but that's why we believe that we can replace obamacare with reforms that will make it easier for people to acquire or keep the health insurance plan that meets their actual individual needs. my friends across the aisle
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continue to say we haven't offered a practical alternative, but that's just not true. just to remind them, some of the alternatives that we've offered include equalizing the tax treatment of health care so that individuals purchasing insurance on their own are on the same level playing field as those who have employer-provided coverage. we would let americans buy their health insurance coverage across state lines, something that's now not currently permitted, which would kress competition and increase consumer choice. so if i found a policy that i needed from maryland or massachusetts or anywhere else around the country, i could buy it. so could my 26 million constituents. we would let individuals in the small businesses form risk pools in the individual market, which is the most expensive part of the insurance market, helping to bring costs down. we would make price and quality information more transparent,
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again to increase that discipline known as market forces, which would help improve consumer choice and in the process bring down cost while improving quality of service. and we would also expand the power of individuals to control their own health care spending through tax-free health savings accounts, which also had the additional benefit of providing skin in the game for consumers. one of the reasons why our health care spend something so high and so worrisome is that for too long our health care corchl was like a credit card that each of us -- or many of us, not all of us, 85% of us had in our pocket where we could continue to charge and charge and charge, but we'd never see the bill. well, that's a recipe for a runaway system, which is the reason we do need true health insurance reform. part of that reform would be to control frivolous malpractice lawsuits that help drive up costs by increasing the
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incentives for defens defensive medicine, doctors treating patients not because they think it is called on based on clinical guidelines but rather in their effort to safe a conducted every test, i've done everything possible so i can't get sued successfully. we would use high-risk pools to enshould you are that people are preexisting conditions could get coverage and we'd give the states a lot more flexibility on how to manage medicaid. i read with interest that a lot of the increased cofnlg since obamacare passioned is not in -- since obamacare passed is not in the exchaifntle it is in the medicaid. medicaid pays a doctor about 50 cents on the dollar for what private insurance pays that doctor and so only about a third of doctors will actually see a new medicaid patient because the cost of doing so eats into their profit and i deed may make their doing so completely unprofitable and nonviable.
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well, we could improve medicaid by creating more flexibility in the states to manage that beneficiary population and to expand corchl. -- expand coverage. we had would expand competition. those are nine different reform proposals we've been making since 2009 when obamacare was first being debated, but it's clear our colleagues across the aisle were so concentrated on this huge takeover of our health care system -- one-sixth of our economy in a way that we now know is not going to work that they weren't even listening. i hope they will now. the reforms i've described enjoy broad support among republicans on capitol hill, and my hope is whether you are a critic of obamacare, like i was, or you were a skeptic and thought, well, maybe it will work but i'm not sure it will, or whether you
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were one of its biggest cheerleaders, now that we're seeing that these promises that were made by the president and others in order to sell this to the american people are not true, i'm hopeful that democrats and republicans can come together to try to fix our broken health care system. after witnessing obamacare's disastrous rollout and its long trail of broken promises, i think most americans would agree it's time for something different. i've read the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. obamacare is not going to get any better by continuing to do the same thing over and over again. i would hope that we would learn from our mistakes and we would work together to improve access and the price of health care to the american people. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. cardin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, the legislation that is currently pending before this body, the employment nondiscrimination act, s. 815, provides an historic opportunity for us to advance civil rights in this country, to end employment discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender, the lgbt community. the united states has shown international leadership against discrimination, promoting better understanding and tolerance around the globe. that has made the security of countries better. it's provided opportunities for minority communities, and the united states has been in the
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forefront of those efforts. we have shown leadership internationally, and we've done that because we have taken action in our own country to protect against discrimination. action at home helps us to provide that credibility for our international leadership. passage of s. 815, the employment nondiscrimination act, would demonstrate that action that we've taken the right action at home, and, therefore, we have the standing to promote better understanding globally. the u.s. leadership has been shown in many different ways. i'm very proud that one of the primary organizations that the united states has participated in that has advanced human rights is the organization for security and cooperation in europe, our local arm in participating is the helsinki commission. i have the honor of chairing the
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helsinki commission that includes members of both the house and senate along with members of the administration. we have used that role in the helsinki commission to promote an international agenda to deal with best practices to end discrimination on ethnic communities, religious communities and racial discrimination. as a result of u.s. leadership, we have made a difference. we made a difference in europe. we made a difference in north america. we made a difference around the world. today there are special representatives under the o.s.c. to promote tolerance in regards to minority communities on race, the muslim community and jewish communities. we made a difference in the roma population in europe which has been badly discriminated against. we have had conferences to deal with anti-semitism to help the jewish communities in europe. and we've helped religious minorities around the region.
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now the u.s. leadership is needed to help the lgbt community. we've seen countries in europe take discriminatory action to marginalize lesbians and gays and those who because of their sexual orientation, their gender identity have been discriminated against. in order to do that, we need to pass the legislation before us to give us the moral ground and to promote the core values of our country. america's core values are based upon equal rights for all citizens, and that's what we need to promote by the passage of this legislation. i must tell you it also is important for economic advancements. if we're going to be able to adequately compete globally, we need to empower all of the people of this country. we can't leave anyone behind. i am proud of what's happened in my own state of maryland. maryland has had a proud history
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of advancing civil rights for all of its citizens. this past weekend i had an opportunity -- i guess the weekend before that -- to join in the 25th anniversary of equality in maryland. in 25 years they have changed the landscape in regards to the lgbt community in my state of maryland. we passed many laws that have advanced protection for all of our citizens in our state. in maryland -- the state of maryland has passed laws. we've had local governments pass laws. baltimore city passed a law, baltimore county, montgomery county, howard county. the list goes on. and maryland, not only did our legislature pass marriage equality, it was petitioned a referendum and the voters of maryland approved marriage equality. so we have taken steps in our state to advance the rights of all of our citizens, including the lgbt community. it's been nearly a half a century since we passed the civil rights act of 1964.
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the civil rights act of 1964 prevents discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. that's been our law now for almost a half a century. enda, the legislation before us, would expand that to sexual orientation and gender identity. the civil rights act of 1964 has worked. it has worked. it has provided an enforcement mechanism for those who have been discriminated against in their employment because of their race or because of their religion or because of their national origin or because of their sex. it has worked. enda would expand that protection for sexual orientation and gender identity. it's time that we do this. 21 states have already acted,
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including my state of maryland. we passed laws, 17 states include gender identity. federalism has worked. what do i mean by that? we have seen that there's a national law. the law is the civil rights act of 1964. it set up the framework, so everyone understands we won't tolerate discrimination in the workplace. and it's had a workable way where those who are victimized can get remedied because the real remedy we want is equal opportunity for employment of all the citizens of this country. it has worked. our states have said we can go further. we can protect the lgbt community. and they have, and it's worked. and those who have said we're going to have problems because of religious organizations or we're going to have problems because of this group, that has not been the case. federalism has demonstrated that it's now time to pass a national law to protect against those who discriminate in employment on a
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person's sexual orientation or gender identity. we need a national law. mr. president, i could give you many specific examples that have been shared with us. we can talk the numbers. we know the numbers. i'd like to talk about specific cases. i could talk to you about -- let me mention two people. kim ya has a master's degree in social work and nearly two decades of experience in the field. she was the manager of a unit of a long-term care community for those suffering from alzheimer's and dementia. she enjoyed her job but suffered through nearly a year of threatening messages, vandalism and slurs uttered in the hall. she was fired, her supervisor telling her this would not have happened if you were not a lesbian. let me tell you a case of linda. linda is an attorney who relocated to this region because her partner accepted a faculty position with a local university.
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linda was invieded for a -- invited for a second interview with a local law firm. during that interview linda was asked why she was moving to this region and she replied her spouse had taken a position at the local university. the law firm asked linda to come back for a final interview which would include a dinner for all parties and their spouses to make sure they all got along. at that point linda told one of the partners at her law firm that her spouse was a woman. soon afterwards linda was told that the firm would not hire a lesbian and she should not bother coming in for the third interview. in kenya and linda's cases they live in states that do not have protection in the lgbt community and therefore there was no way to address this wrong. the legislation before us has been endorsed by the leadership council on civil and human rights that represent over 200 civil rights, religious, labor and women's rights organizations. it has broad support.
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it is supported by the american people. it is the right thing to do. it represents our core values. our former colleague, senator ted kennedy, said that civil rights was the great unfinished business of america. we're all on that path. the passage of the employment nondiscrimination act would be a major step forward to making us a more perfect union. i urge my colleagues to support the legislation. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i appreciate the comments of my colleague from maryland who argued so well that the time has come to take a step in favor of equality, fairness and pass the employment
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nondiscrimination act. i too rise to speak to the importance of this action. the declaration of independence in its second paragraph says in words that are famous and well-known to all americans, "we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they're endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." certainly that vision of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is infused into everything we pursue in this nation in the success of individuals, in the success of our families, in the success of our communities, and the success of our nation. in the debate on which we are about to embark is deeply connected to this debate, because certainly the ability to
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be free from discrimination in the pursuit of a job and to be free from discrimination in the course of employment is central to that pursuit of happiness. it is central to the issue of liberty. i rise today to say how important and vital this is to millions of americans for whom discrimination has blocked and compromised the vision laid out in the declaration of independence. and this bill, this framework for ending discrimination employment, senate bill 815, is born with a lot of bipartisan partners whom i'd like to thank at this moment. it was back in 2009, my first year in the u.s. senate, that senator kennedy and his team
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asked me to take leadership of this bill that he had held near and dear to his heart, to carry the torch forward in fighting for fairness and employment, fighting for an end to discrimination. and since that time many have stepped forward to be partners in this journey. senator collins was the first chief cosponsor from the republican sidestepping forward and taking her voice and her energy and her experience and her insight to bear. after two years, she passed the baton to senator mark kirk. has been a long time champion of the visionist of fairness and equality for all americans. both of them have done an outstanding and extraordinary job in forwarding this dialogue. and on the democratic side, we have first and foremost senator kennedy who carried this leadership for many years,
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including back in 1996 when we had this on the floor of the senate. and i'll return to that in due course. he was a champion for civil rights in many, many different parts of our world, including race discrimination and gender discrimination and discrimination against the lbgt community. and senator harkin, who chairs the health, education, and labor committee that carried this bill forward through two hearings in 2009 and 2012, who carried it forward an in markup this past yeerd and who prepared -- this past year and who prepared to send it to the floor. thank you, senator harkin, for your leadership. and for senator tammy baldwin, who came to us with her personal story and with her experience froofleadership in the house ans
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carried on so many individual meetings to speak to these core issues of equality and fairness and opportunity. so thank you to this bipartisan set of sponsors and thank you to everyone who last night said, "yes, we should debate this issue; we should debate this issue of discrimination blocking full opportunity for millions of americans." and so shortly we will be engaged in that debate. after the declaration of independence, we had the preamble to the constitution. and this also is well-known to americans across the land. we, the people of the united states, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the
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blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish the constitution for the united states of america. so here we have those core concepts of justice and the blessings of liberty for that generation, the generations that would follow. what exactly is liberty? what is freedom? senator kennedy in 1965 in a commencement address to howard university said, "freedom is the right to share, share fully and equally in american society, to vote, to hold a job, to enter a public place, to go to a schoo school." senator johnson continued, "it is the right to be treated in -- ex-- excuse me, president johnson, "it is the right to be
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treated in life as a person of dignity and promise to all others." i think it is a pretty goodscription of what liberty and freedom means, a right to participate full any american society, in every respect -- at the voting booth, in the job place and in the public square, as you would choose to participate. so the employment nondiscrimination act which ends discrimination against our lbgt community is rooted in the best of american values. it's rooted in the concepts of liberty and freedom in our founding documents in our founding vision. it is rooted in the concept of fundamental fairness. how unfair is it if an individual who seeking to apply to a job cannot have the full opportunity for that job, a full opportunity to thrive because of discrimination? how fair is it because of who you are outside of the workplace that you are fired from the workplace?
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let us think of the golden rule. we all learned this early in life: that we should treat others according to how we would want to be treated. and we would all want to be treated with respect and dignity that president johnson referred to. and it is a vision of equality that was in the declaration of independence, and i.t. the -- ad i.t. the vision of opportunity that's -- and it's the vision of opportunity that's deeply rooted. if you work and study hard, you can do just about anything. that's a vision my father gave to me when he took me to the schoolhouse doors and said, if you go through those doors and study hard here in america, you can do just about anything. but discrimination takes away from that vision of opportunity. it says, if you study hard here
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in america, you can do just about anything unless you have a certain color of skin, unless you have a certain gender, unless you have a certain gender identity or sexual orientation. now, we've struck down many of those barriers. we've advanced on this vision of equality. but we have further to go. that's what this debate is about. in 29 states you can still be fired from the job, you can still be told not to apply in the beginning because of your sexual orientation or your gender identity -- in 29 states. it should not be the dhaits vision of equality -- it should not be the case that the vision of equality and fairness and opportunity happens to owe can you on one side of a state line but is destroyed if you cross
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that state line, because this vision of opportunity and fairness and equality that's in our constitution, in our declaration of independence didn't say that this vision is only if you live in particular states, only if you live in the 21 states that have protections for our lesbian, gay, and bisexual community, or only if you live in the 17 states that have protections of employment for our transgender community. the journey of this legislation began in 1974. it was a year after stonewall. 39 years ago. bell abzug introduced in the house of representatives legislation that would ban job discrimination. and it took another 19 years before such legislation was introduced here in the u.s. senate and hearings were held in the labor and human rees resours
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commisourcescommittee in 1994. and it was two years later that the bill was debated here on this chamber, right here, in this very room, and the outcome was 49 for, 50 against, with vice president gore sitting right now in the presiding chair where the senator from hawaii sits. now, vice president gore had already clarified where he stood, so we were missing one senator and one vote, and the result is it's been 17 years since this conversation was held in this chamber, 17 years of discrimination through so many states across america. it's time to end that discrimination and enhance the vision of equality and fairness. well today we have a bill that has before us 55 cosponsors.
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when he think about that 49-50 vote 17 years ago, we might say, well, isn't this a done deal? there are 55 cosponsors. you only need 51 to pass a bill in the u.s. senate. but it it's not a done deal. in the past decade and a half the senate has gone from being a simple-majority chamber as envoitioned in the constitution to being a chamber wherever action takes a supermajority vote. we need add supermajority of 60 to get on to the bill last night, and everyone anticipates we'll need 60 votes to get off the bill -- that to close debate and have a final vote. that's not the senate that's been with us through 200 years. i.ti.t.it's the senate of the ln years. but that is where we stand right
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now. and therefore we need 60 votes. we had 61 votes to get on this debate last night. i thank every one of those 61 senators who stood up and said yes, it's time to debate this issue, it is right to consider the issue of core fairness to millions of americans, yes, it is right to recognize that we should have a debate about the impact of discrimination on the ability of the individual to have full opportunity in our nation. so thank you to the 61 senators to stood up last night. have no doubt, discrimination is alive and well. i share with you a story of laura from portland, oregon. before oregon had nondiscrimination clauses, which we adopted in 2007, and she
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notes that from 1980 to 1996 she worked for the josephine county sheriff's office in grant's pass, oregon. she had the rank of sergeant. she was promoted often, she worked in a variety of capacities including as a detective in the major crimes unit and the narcotics task force. during her 16 years she notes, she say, "i received numerous commendations, including commendations for removing and automobile accident victim from a burning vehicle, delivering a baby alongside a roadside, disarming a man intent on harming himself." she was awarded for her diligence and expertise in a number of criminal cases. she was named deputy of the year in 1994. she taught law enforcement classes at a community college and at the oregon police academy. she had a distinguished employment record.
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but then on labor day 1995 she was in a remote area when a police dog attacked her and did some damage to her leg and she was put on administrative leave and during the month that followed her stoarnl uni storags broken into. and out of the storage unit came information that she was a transgender individual. and because of that, she was fired. stellar career in every aspect. but a break into her storage unit plus discrimination ended that career. she ends her commentary by saying, "had employment nondiscrimination laws been in effect, i likely would have continued serving the citizens of josephine county to this
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day." and we know from her employment record that she would have been well-served. but that was before oregon adopted antidiscrimination legislation. many people have written to share their stories. terry are aloha wrote, "thank you for continuing the fight against discrimination. i am retired now, but i did lose a job when i was young for being a lesbian. until later in life, i stayed deep in the closet to keep from losing another job. all of the nondiscrimination bills help us define who we are as a people, she continues, and underscores or believe in life, liberty, and the spiewr pursuitf happiness for every american." by one survey, far more than a third of individuals -- lgbt individuals -- have experienced some form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
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that's a tremendous impact on the pursuit of happiness. that's a tremendous shrinking of freedom and liberty, as envisioned in our founding documents, our vision for this nation. now, there are a number of issues that have been raised as colleagues have talked about this bill before it comes to the floor here. and i wanted to address some of them. first, this bill is fully inclusive. it includes the lesbian, the gay, the bisexual and the transgender community. it should be fully inclusive because discrimination is wrong. discrimination shrinks opportunity. discrimination is an offense against liberty and freedom in our narks the full participation and society. so of course this bill should be fully inclusive.
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as it is in 17 of the 21 states that have laws on their books right now. a second issue has been concern about lawsuits, and we heard this yesterday from the speaker of the house. but we have all of these pilots, if you will -- 21 states with measures on the books, all kinds of experience. so i ask the general accounting office to do an yo updated studn the issue of lawsuits. there's been 0 no o. buse, no extraordinary stream of unfounded lawsuits against businesses, no damage to business. in oregon, lgbt discrimination claims are less than 2% of the total number of employment discrimination claims. it's less than 1 out of 50. in other states it's ranged from
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2% to 6%. that's a small number, and it's why the business community has remained so supportive, far more than half, in fact close to 90% of the fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination practices that they have adopted on their own. they have adopted it because it's good business. nike, in my home state of oregon, says -- quote -- "enda is good for business, for employees and for our communities." continues the nike statement to say that inclusive nondiscrimination policies -- quote -- "enable us to attract and retain the best and brightest people around the world." that's why fortune 500 companies have lined up to adopt nondiscrimination provisions. because what is good for
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liberty, what is good for opportunity is good for business. and the g.a.o. study shows that any claim that there has been a problem with excessive lawsuits is simply false. a third concern is about the religious exemption. the religious exemption in this bill is deeply founded on title 7 of the civil rights act. there is a whole history of interpretation understanding exactly where the boundaries are. this is the same religious exemption that was voted in favor of in the u.s. house of representatives by a measure of 420-25. 420-25 said this is the right foundation to make sure that we create the balance for religious
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organization. there are others who are concerned that simply the american people are not ready, not ready for this discussion despite the fact that it's been adopted in 21 states, despite the fact that we've had many related issues before the american public up for discussion, including hate crimes, the matthew shepard hate crimes act. we've had don't ask, don't tell. we've had a supreme court discussion about marriage equality. certainly americans are well familiar with this. in fact, 80% of americans think we've already done this. i was explaining to my daughter about this bill, this bill, this fight against discrimination and its terrible impacts on liberty and freedom and opportunity, and she said, "but dad, people can't fire others because they're
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lesbian or gay; right?" she said, "that's not possible." and i said sweetie, it was possible right here in oregon until a couple years ago when in 2007 we adopted nondiscrimination policies, nondiscrimination statutes for our state. and she just shook her head. and it took me back to when i was in high school and i was hearing about jim crow systems, discrimination against those with dark skin instead of lighter skin. and i thought that's not possible, not under our vision of opportunity and equality of our constitution and our pursuit of happiness. it's not possible. but it was possible. and it was very real well after i was born. but we ended that discrimination, and it's time to end this discrimination.
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this is about the individual, but it's about our nation as well. it's certainly about the vision of the declaration of independence that has the promise of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as the founding motivation. it certainly is about our constitution that says the core purpose is to secure the blessings of liberty because certainly you do not have liberty if you do not have the full opportunity to participate in the workplace across america. senator ted kennedy, who carried this battle until days before his death, in fact the quote i'm about to share is from august 5, 2009.
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he died just 20 days later. this may well have been one of his last public comments, in introducing the 2009 bill may well have been one of his last legislative acts. and he said, the promise of america will never be fulfilled as long as justice is denied to even one among us. i urge my colleagues, take a stand for equality. take a stand for fundamental fairness. take a stand for the vision of the pursuit of happiness embedded in our constitution. take a stand for justice for all. support this bill. thank you, mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: mr. president, among the many promises the president made when he and congressional democrats enacted their unpopular health care law nearly four years ago -- and by the way, that was enacted without any bipartisan input or support -- there was one thing in particular that americans definitely have not forgotten. it was a promise that president obama repeated over and over again to the american people at rally after rally. you can't turn on the tv these days without it being played, or the radio, or pick up a newspaper without this being
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played over and over again because it was so ingrained in the thoughts of the american people, this promise that the president made, so definitively shouted and pounded. "if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan. period." by saying period behind, it's sort of like it puts the stamp. that's it, no disagreement. if you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep it. well, here are the facts. this program has been in place for one month and a couple of days. already at least 3.5 million americans have received cancellation notices from their insurance companies. lord knows how many more letters are in the mail or will be in the mail, arriving at americans'
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mailboxes in the coming weeks and months ahead. so if you like your health care plan and you can keep it, already 3.5 million americans have been told, no, you can't keep your health care plan. and thousands of hoosiers have already received those letters and they'll continue to receive more. rebecca from muncie received a letter saying your individual health care plan will be canceled. she's also learned that the premiums in the government-approved plans are double and triple of what she's paying now. remember this won't cost one penny more? dwight from indianapolis wrote to me and shared a similar story. dwight also received notice in the mail that his health care plan is being terminated. and when he started looking for an alternative government-approved plan -- by the way, one of the few that was able to get through the web site -- he experienced sticker shock. dramatic increases in his
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premiums that he would have to pay for having his plan terminated and now has to buy the obamacare plan. and that sticker shock was felt by garth in marion, indiana as well. garth told me his family insurance costs will be more than three times as much under obamacare as they're paying now. i'm not sure that -- well, i am sure re deck ka, dwight -- rebecca, dwight, garth and tens of thousands of other hoosiers have found the promise they can keep their health care plan if they like it, they found that promise a broken promise. despite the repeated promise by the president for several years to the american people that you can keep your health care plan if you like it, period, we now have learned that the white house knew all along that this wasn't true. for at least the past three years the white house has known that millions of americans would
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receive cancellation notices and lose their current health care coverage. yet the president has continued to package this flawed product with false advertising and apparently deliberate dishonesty to sell it to the american people. and we wonder why americans are losing confidence in their government? we wonder why there's such an alarming trust deficit in the country today? as "washington post" writer chris solizza wrote recently, when you're the president, words matter. mr. president, words matter. your words were "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. period." mr. president, that was a false promise. and it is undermining the confidence and trust of the american people in this president and in this government. the fact is you can only keep your health care plan if the
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obama administration likes that plan, and apparently there's millions already of plans that they don't like. and the ones they do like are their own creation with multiple, doubles and triples of premium cost. in 2009, the president also said we will keep this promise. if you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor. period. the president keeps enunciating his promises with a period. that means that's it. final. nothing else to say about it. the fact is also that under obamacare, many individuals are not going to have access to their doctors that they've trusted for years. if the white house had been honest with americans would the administration have promised that people could keep doctors that they like? and many individuals and families are seeing higher premiums, higher co-pays and higher deductibles under obamacare. if the white house had been
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honest with americans, would it have told the public that the health care law would save families up to $2,500? haven't seen any of those stories yet. and the president's response to all of this and the millions of americans who have had their insurance coverage canceled, he says -gs -- he says just shop around. well, first of all, maybe the president has forgotten that americans can't even shop around because his web site doesn't work. maybe the president hasn't tried shopping around himself, because he and his political appointees are not required to join obamacare. that's right. everybody else is forced into obamacare, but not the president nor his appointees and his team. they think it's good enough for the american people, so they're not going to be -- but they're not going to be forced to join it as the rest of us are, including members of congress, which is okay.
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we should join it. we should be forced to join it because if we're going to impose this on the american people, it needs to be imposed on ourselves so that we feel the pain just as they're feeling the pain. but the president exempted. president's appointees exempted. what kind of leadership is that? individuals and families that have been able to shop around are finding that many of the obama-approved health care policies are going to cost them more money, not less. middle-class families are getting hit with massive premium increases and outrageous deductibles. remember the point of health care reform was to lower the cost of health care and increase access, but we're seeing just the opposite of what the president promised. i think it is now clear that if the white house had been honest with the american people, this law would never have been passed in the first place. it was abraham lincoln who once
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said if you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. it's true that you may fool all the people some of the time. you can even fool some of the people all of the time. but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. and unfortunately today, many americans feel they have been fooled by a series of promises by this administration and its supporters that were simply not true. given the many problems and broken promises with obamacare, given the law's negative impact on american families, the sensible course of action at this time is to take a timeout from implementation of this law. recent polling shows that nearly three in four americans -- american voters now support delaying obamacare's individual mandate. in september i introduced a bill to delay that mandate for a year. the house has already passed
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similar legislation offered by my indiana colleague todd young, to delay both the employer and the individual mandate. and, by the way, 22 house democrats supported that language. so the first step we should take today is to delay the obama mandate and put people over politics. there's a lot of work ahead to deliver real health care reform. we need to bring down the cost of health care, not raise it. we need to put patients in control of their health care decisions, not washington bureaucrats. and we need to increase competition before medical malpractice and allow people to buy insurance across state lines, create risk pools and a number of other initiatives that have been put forward here that would make it an affordable health care reform. and not the unaffordable, overpromised, underdelivered health care plan that the american people are now having to deal with. delaying the individual mandate
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will give the american people an opportunity to voice their displeasure over this false information by the president and the chance to start over with a real, honest approach to health care reform. it's time to start now. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with and i be allowed to speak for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, recently president obama made the comment that obamacare isn't just a web site, it's much more. well, i couldn't agree more with that statement. his health care law is also a list of broken promises that harm middle-class americans.
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while he was trying to sell obamacare to the american people, president obama repeatedly stated that if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. well, he didn't say that if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, unless your health care plan changes or if you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan unless your health care plan get canceled. he didn't say that you can only keep your health care plan if the white house likes your health care plan. he said, if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. so pretty emphatic, i would argue, mr. president, when the president of the united states says something like that. and yet just one month now after the obamacare exchange rollout, at least 3.5 million americans have received insurance cancellation notices, according to the associated press. and that number just reflects
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the number of dropped plans in about 25 states. there are about 25 other states that haven't reported their numbers yet. a report by the american action forum cites that this number is expected to increase in the coming months. on sunday, former white house press secretary robert gibbs conceded that it was certainly wrong for the president to claim that if you like your plan, you can keep it. "the washington post" fact checker even gave the president four pinocchios for his of oft-repeated pledge that if you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan. we're now learning that only in the white house likes your plan, you'll be able to keep yew plan. after obamacare was signed into law, the president's administration released regulations. this information was buried in 2010 regulations.
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and despite the fact that the administration had posted this regulation, the president continued to state, if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan. at the time this regulation was released, the administration issued a statement saying that 40% to 67% of americans poo liked their insurance would lose their coverage. the administration also state in that regulation that by the year 2013, 39% to 69% of businesses large and small would lose their grandfathered plans. what the president blatantly left out of his promise was the caveat that if the federal government approves of your health care plan, then you can keep it. not if you like it, you can keep it. if the federal government likes it, then you can keep t but what we're finding out, mr. president, is the opposite is true. it is a completely broken
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promise, completely. what makes this issue even more startling is in 2010 senate democrats voted along party lines to r reaffirm that those americans who like their plans can keep it, if it receives the government seal of approval. on a party-line vote, democrats killed senator enzi's resolution endorsing the administration's plan to cancel. the president is now telling millions of americans who had theiinsurance canceled that they should just shop around for policies that could be more costly ho on a web site that dos not function. it is clear the administration has misled americans with their promises. jerry buckley of marion, arkansas, says he didn't a teption to any of that, because
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the president kept telling you, this won't affect you, if you like what you have. mr. buckley received a letter from arkansas bluecross blueshield saying that his policy did not comply with the new regulations under obamacare. a comparable plan has a higher premium, higher out-of-pocket costs and less coverage. as the leader of our country, the president's words matter. he needs to be held accountable for these millions of insurance plans that he promised the american people that they could keep. simply having administration officials apologize for a broken web site is not a solution. madam president, the issues run much deeper than anything any i.t. expert can fix. this is fundamentally about the flaws in this law enforcement that's why the cancellation notices continue to go out despite the president's assertions and promises that if you like your plan, you can keep
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it. well, in addition to the cancellation notices, consumers are experiencing sticker shock when they see what plans are available to them. forbes reports that premiums in 41 states -- 41 states, are going to increase. my home state ranks seventh. in four states insurance premiums are expected to rise over 100%. a "washington post" headline from the weekend reads, "for consumers whose health premiums will go up under the new law, sticker shock leads to anger." end quote. the article cites an anecdote by an area lawyer, deborah pracico, who learned that her insurance plan is being canceled due to obamacare. under a comparable plan with the new law, her premium is going to increase by 5 5% and her deductible will double.
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she expects it will cost her at least $5,000 a year more. there are millions of middle-class americans just like deborah whose health care costs are skyrocketing under obamacare. madam president, the rising premiums are affecting both americans who buy their insurance in the individual market and those who have employer-provided health care as well. in an effort to avoid these higher costs, small businesses are renewing their plans early to avoid requirements imposed by obamacare. insurance brokers told "usa today" that 60% to 80% of small businesses with less than 50 employees are scrambling to renew their policies before the year's end to avoid paying the obamacare prices for one more year. with our still-sluggish economy and unacceptably high unemployment rate, americans cannot afford obamacare. this catastrophic law is leading to canceled policies, higher costs, and less coverage.
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senate republicans want to hear your stories, if you've had a plan -- had the plan of your choice canceled and your premiums had skyrocketed. we would ask you to visit republicans.senate.gov/yourstor. it is now evidence evident that after supporting the rule that led to cancellations, democrats are recommending a delay in the individual mandate. even those thew supported this law in 2009 and 2010 are having second thoughts. but second thoughts, madam president, aren't enough. we need to work together to repeal this law and replace it with policies that actually lower the cost of care and allow individuals to keep the plans and the doctors that they like. republicans will continue to fight to protect as many americans as possible from this train wreck and we hope that democrats here in the united states senate will work with us. madam president, over the weekend we, saw more examples, there was a story in the "wall
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street journal" from yesterday about a lady who lost her coverage and can't use her doctor. she's a stage four cancer survivor and she has used health care facilities in her home state of california that have done wonderful things for her in treating her illness. and yet under the obamacare policies that are currently in place, she is losing that coverage and losing access to her doctor. the promise that you can keep your plan, if you like it, the promise that you can keep your doctor if you like your doctor, it is a broken promise that cannot be fulfilled. and the president of the united states over and over and over again said, if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. madam president, we know that's not true and we know it's never going to be true, and we know going back now to 2010 they knew
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it wasn't going to be true. they were predicting that there were going to be cancellations. they were predicting there was going to be sticker shock. and yet never once did the president modify his statement. he consistently said, "if you like your health care plan today, you can keep it, period." completely. completely misleading. now millions of americans who have received cancellation notices and who are seeing skyrocketing premiums, imperilling their ability to cover themselves and their family. there's a better way. there was a better way back then. there's a better way today. of bringing health care costs down, making it more affordable for more americans, allowing them to have access to the health care plan they like and to the doctor they choose. and yet if we stay on this current path, we are headed for a train wreck. but we have time, madam president, to turn the train around before this thing is fully implemented and i hope we'll find cooperation here, bipartisan cooperation because health care is an important issue to millions of americans. it is a pocketbook issue that
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affects so many families across this country. and their ability to provide affordable coverage for themselves and their families is an economic issue and something that everybody talks about at the kitchen table. and so we can come up with a better solution to this, we should come up with a better solution so this, and if we don't, not only will we see millions of americans with canceled coverage and millions of americans with dramatic increases in the amount that they're paying for health insurance coverage today, we will also see the impact that this will have on jobs as more and more employers find it more difficult to retain their employees and to hire more workers. and the high unemployment rate, the chronically high unemployment rate that we see today, the historically low labor participation rate, the reduced take-home pay that we've seen for middle-class americans, those will become a permanent state for the american people. and, madam president, i think the american people want to see us work on policies that will improve their standard of living, improve their quality of
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life, get more americans back to work, increase take-home pay for middle-class americans. this is -- this policy takes us backwards. this policy takes us down a track that leads to broken promises and unfulfilled expectations for the american people. it's high time that we changed that. we can do that and i hope that we will find the bipartisan cooperation here and hopefully the engagement of the president of the united states, who, after all, made the promise that if you like your plan, you can keep it, period, repeatedly, over and over and over again. a broken promise, madam president, but it's not too late to do the right thing and i hope that we will be able to find the bipartisan cooperation to do that. madam president, i yield the floor.
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mr. thune: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isaac: son i ask unanimous consent to address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call.
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mr. isakson: i ask the quorum call be vitiated and to address the senate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: thank you, madam president. you know, we get to do a lot of things as members of the senate on the floor of this great body. we make great speeches, we have great debates. but periodically from time to time we pay tribute to someone in our state who's done many, many, great things for many, many people. and i take opportunity to do exactly that today on the floor of the united states senate. because this sunday night at 5:00 p.m., salem baptist church in atlanta, george, the reverend jasper w. williams jr. will be honored for his 50th year of continued service at salem baptist church. i've been privileged to know jasper for 20 of those 50 years. i've been a member of that church when i heard his sermons. i've heard him preach the gospel. i've heard him teach others. i've heard him save people's lives. i've heard him and see him reach out in the community to help children get day care, to attend to the sick and poor, and to do
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everything without any expectation of benefit to himself but the self-satisfaction of serving the lord and serving his church. he has a great church at salem baptist. they have two sites and ft:bot-2 congregations. he learned the ministry from his father. went to salem baptist church to preach as a guest on easter sundays, 19636789 and in november of that year, at the age of 19, that church offered jasper the pastorship of salem baptist and he has been there every day since. his two sons also preach in the salem baptist church community to carry on the tradition of the jasper williams family. he's a graduate of more house college, the leading black institution in atlanta, at th ae atlanta university complex. a great citizen of our state and country. so i take a privilege at this time on the floor of united states senate to pay tribute to my friend, jasper w. williams jr., to thank him and thank the lord for his service to the people of atlanta, georgia, and to the baptist church chest church. and i yield back the rest of my time.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: i ask for dispensing of the reading of the roll. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. markey: thank you. and i ask to be recognized to speak on behalf of the passage of enda. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. markey: and, madam president, i have eight unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders, and i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. markey: thank you. i rise today in support of equal treatment for all americans. the employee nondiscrimination act or enda is aimed at protecting all lesbians, gay, by
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sexual and transgender americans from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender. all americans deserve to be free from discrimination in the workplace and enda is a crucial step to ensuring equal treatment. i have been a cosponsor of the employee nondiscrimination act every time it was introduced in congress since the bill was first drafted in 1994. two years later, in 1996, i was one of only 67 members of the house of representatives to vote against the defense of marriage act. that seems like ancient history now, so long ago. and i am proud to say that the employee nondiscrimination act has its roots in my home state of massachusetts. back in 1994, it was originally written by two titans of
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massachusetts politics, congressman gerry studds in the house of representatives and senator ted kennedy here in the united states senate. we're coming up now to close to 20 years since those bills were introduced, first in the house and in the senate. and while neither of these visionary leaders are with us today, their tireless work for equality lives on. they helped pave the way for this debate by challenging the pervasive view that lgbt people are not and do not need or deserve the same legal rights and protections as everyone else. we began debating this actually in the massachusetts state legislature in the mid 1970's. in massachusetts in the 1970's, a law like this could not pass. but in 1989, massachusetts
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became the second state in the nation to adopt a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, public accommodation, housing and credit services. in 2004, massachusetts became the first state in the nation to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples. massachusetts is again paving the way with the passage of one of the first transgender equal rights laws in the nation. the people of massachusetts know that when some of our citizens are being discriminated against, the liberty of all people is diminished. from schoolrooms to board rooms, members of the massachusetts lgbt community have made stunning progress towards full legal equality, and simply put, equality works in massachusetts and it works for massachusetts by ensuring that lgbt
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individuals have the same employment protections as everyone else, we have made the light of liberty in our state burn even more brightly. and the same basic civil rights protections that have been extended to lgbt residents of massachusetts should be extended to lgbt people across the entire nation. for the last two decades, the people of massachusetts have supported a national employment nondiscrimination law because we cannot allow our nation to have one standard in states that pass laws that protect people from discrimination and to have other states that do not. we cannot have the careers of people, the dreams of people to be in fear of prosecution as people move from state to state. this should be a national
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standard which we establish, a standard that ensures that every person knows that wherever they are in the united states of america, that they are going to be protected, that they were -- that they were created by god and that they have a right to these protections in every state in our country. today the number of states that have adopted their own antidiscrimination laws are basically increasing, and i applaud the progress that has been made to advance the cause of equality on the state level. however, 29 states still do not have these critical protections in place, and that is 29 states too many that still refuse to provide those protections. in the end, madam president, it comes down to this -- we should treat others as we would like to
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be treated ourselves. the lgbt community is made up of our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers and our families, and we all deserve the same rights. regardless of who we are, regardless of where we live in our great nation. that is what is truly exceptional about america. despite our challenges we remain the brightest beacon of freedom, opportunity and equality in the world. madam president, i have a great teal deal of pride in our nation and our people. i believe we can come together with one voice to say that discrimination is wrong. so let us here this week all stand together for a future without discrimination in the workplace. it will make america more productive, it will make us more wealthy but most important, it will ensure that we have removed that stigma of discrimination that puts fear into the